For Immediate Release – June 22, 2016
FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Distillers’ Association has honored Rep. Linda Belcher with its prestigious “100 Proof Award” for her leadership in passing landmark tourism legislation that will elevate and transform the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail® adventures.
“Rep. Belcher was instrumental in building bipartisan support in the House for this historic legislation that will reform our tourism experiences, create jobs, spur investment and finally give visitors what they’ve been demanding for years – a cocktail at the world’s greatest distilleries.
“The KDA and its 28 members thank Rep. Belcher for her tremendous work to modernize our state’s archaic alcohol laws and level the playing field with our partners in the beer and wine industry. We are honored to present her with this award.”
Rep. Belcher, D-Shepherdsville, is only the sixth person to ever receive the award, which the KDA created in 2009 to recognize elected officials who demonstrate tremendous care, diligence and initiative in promoting and protecting Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry.
Nominees must receive a unanimous vote of both the KDA’s Governmental Affairs Advisory Group and the KDA Board of Directors. It is the highest honor that the state’s iconic Bourbon industry gives to elected officials.
Rep. Belcher has served in the House from 2009 to 2012 and from 2015 to the present. Her Bullitt County district includes Jim Beam, the state’s largest Bourbon distillery, and a founding member of the KDA’s Kentucky Bourbon Trail® experience.
KDA Board Directors and member executives presented Rep. Belcher with a commemorative “100 Proof Award” barrel head yesterday in Frankfort in conjunction with the ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 11 with Gov. Matt Bevin.
“Senate Bill 11 is a progressive, monumental piece of legislation that will allow our distilleries to compete with other states and leverage their potential as major attractions,” Rep. Belcher said. “It was a privilege to help shepherd this vital measure in the House.
“I would like to sincerely thank the Kentucky Distillers’ Association for this honor. I deeply appreciate their confidence and support, and I look forward to working with them more to promote, protect and elevate our signature industry.”
Senate Bill 11 allows distilleries to sell alcohol by the drink, responsibly increases the amount of samples to be offered to visitors, expand the number of bottles visitors may purchase at a distillery and allow for a local option election for distilleries located in a dry territory.
Previous recipients of the bipartisan award are:
- Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, received the first “100 Proof Award” for her tireless efforts in the 2010 legislative session to modernize Kentucky’s Bourbon sampling laws
- Steve Beshear earned the award in 2012 for his leadership and global support of the industry
- Senate President Robert Stivers in 2014 for his bold leadership that led to the passage of several of the KDA’s top priorities, including the Bourbon Barrel Reinvestment Tax Credit
- Dennis Keene accepted the award last year for his tireless six-year effort in passing legislation that requires ignition interlocks for drunken drivers.
Founded in 1880, the KDA is the state’s voice for Bourbon and spirits issues. Its diverse membership produces 90 percent of the world’s Bourbon, from legendary, global brands to emerging micro distilleries that are building the next generation of the timeless craft.
Kentucky Bourbon is one of the Commonwealth’s most historic and treasured industries, a booming $3 billion economic engine that generates more than 15,400 jobs with an annual payroll topping $700 million and pours $166 million into state and local coffers each year.
The KDA’s world-famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour® adventures also set an attendance record last year with nearly 900,000 guests touring an all-time high of 19 participating distilleries.
In addition, KDA member distilleries are in the middle of a $1.3 billion building boom, Gregory said, from innovative new tourism centers to expanded production facilities, all to meet the growing global thirst for Kentucky’s signature spirit.
As further proof of the Bourbon renaissance, the KDA recently announced that state distilleries filled nearly 1.9 million barrels of Bourbon last year, the largest amount in nearly a half-century, and paid a record $17.8 million in barrel taxes that fund education and public safety.
There are now 1.5 barrels for every person living in Kentucky.
“Senate Bill 11 is a giant step out of Prohibition-era policies that will help our local communities and the Commonwealth as a whole,” Gregory said. “Thanks to leaders like Rep. Belcher, Kentucky is undoubtedly the top-flight choice for distilleries large and small, old and new, all working in unison to elevate our timeless craft.”
For more information, contact KDA President Eric Gregory at (502) 875-9351.
The KDA is a non-profit trade association founded in 1880 to promote, protect and elevate Kentucky’s signature Bourbon and distilled spirits industry. Heritage members include Beam Suntory (Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark), Brown-Forman Corp. (Old Forester and Woodford Reserve), Diageo North America, Four Roses Distillery, Heaven Hill Brands, Michter’s Distillery and Wild Turkey Distillery. Proof members include Willett Distillery.
Craft members include Alltech’s Town Branch Distillery, Barrel House Distilling Co., Bluegrass Distillers, Boone County Distilling Company, Boundary Oak Distillery, Casey Jones Distillery, Copper & Kings American Brandy Distillery, Corsair Artisan Distillery, Dueling Grounds Distillery, Hartfield & Co. Distillery, Kentucky Artisan Distillery, Kentucky Mist Moonshine, Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co., Limestone Branch Distillery, MB Roland Distillery, New Riff Distillery, The Old Pogue Distillery, Second Sight Spirits and Wilderness Trail Distillery. The Distilled Spirits Epicenter is the KDA’s official educational distillery.
KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL®, KENTUCKY BOURBON TRAIL CRAFT TOUR®, KENTUCKY BOURBON AFFAIR™ and BOURBON TRAIL™ are trademarks/service marks of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. Please drink responsibly.